7 Fraud Prevention Tips For Seniors

by Bethany
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Anyone can be a victim of identity theft and fraud. However, the identity theft of seniors has increased. There was an increase in the number of seniors who were identity theft victims from 2.1M-2.6M in 2012 and 2014 respectively. This information was released by the Justice Department. This rise can be attributed to a number of reasons including: Most seniors who live on their own can forget things easily, their desire for companionship could make them trust easily and fall prey to identity theft, they can have vision problems and they might only have one caregiver.

Luckily, the government of the U.S. is implementing measures to curb the fraud targeted at seniors. In Missouri, for example, a bill was signed to help protect the elderly through letting professional finance handlers put suspicious transactions on hold. However, slowly, this bill is taking effect and showing great results. If other states do the same, identity theft targeting seniors can reduce greatly.

7 Fraud Prevention Tips For Seniors

There are other methods that those caring for seniors can use for fraud prevention. These methods can work well, but the help of family members and other loved ones is crucial in ensuring that they are followed.

Prevent Fraud With Document Shredding

Documents containing personal information should be well protected for effective fraud prevention. At times, it is safer to get rid of something instead of keeping it safely if it would be risky in the wrong hands. Such is the case with seniors’ documents with personal information such as name, address and credit card info. Always shred receipts and other documents such as checks (both unused and used), credit offers and any personal document. Throwing the documents in a dumpster is also not safe because thieves look for anything they can find in litter bins to use against the targeted individual. Always shred receipts as soon as you are done with them.

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Do Not Call Registry Registration

The National Do Not Call Registry is a free federal government’s service that helps people to reduce the number of telemarketing calls made to their homes. Once a number is entered in the registry, they will no longer get unwanted telemarketing calls. When this is done with a senior’s home phone number, they will avoid unwanted calls. Unknown callers, who might be fraudsters, will not have a chance to harass seniors through calls. Here is what people should know about this Registry:

  • The contacts are not released to telemarketers
  • A phone number is registered once
  • Registration can be done at any time
  • It is for both landline and cell phone numbers

Caregivers to seniors should explain to them why it is important to avoid unwanted calls.

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Use Direct Deposits

Never leave outgoing mail in a mailbox if there are documents with your name, any other address or credit card info. You should never give out your social security number.Always go to the bank to get a new check instead of receiving them via mail. This is because they can get stolen from the mall and used to defraud a senior. While away on holiday, ask a trusted friend to pick up mail and newspaper from your mail because their accumulation could be an indicator that there is no one home.

A senior should use direct deposit benefit checks when receiving social security benefits. Your social security benefits should be safe if you never give out your social security number. Direct deposit benefit checks are more efficient than paper checks, and it reduces what is deposited in a mailbox while reducing what can get stolen from the mall.

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Giving Personal Info Via Phone

You should be very careful when you get a call from someone whose identity you are not sure. Some fraudulent individuals use calls to defraud unsuspecting seniors by asking them for personal information such as the legal name. You must never give out your legal name to someone over the phone unless you made the call. Some even have offers and ask for money so that you get something in return. Never let anyone pressure you into making purchases or signing any documents. Your Medicare number is something that should be protected. Never give it to someone on the phone.

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Unsolicited Offers

You should be skeptical of unsolicited offers. To be skeptical of unsolicited offers means to avoiding rushing into doing what someone tell you before you know more about it. You have to always be on guard by being informed. If you want to purchase something online, make sure to do a lot of research on the offers available, where they are available and how to qualify for them. Do not purchase anything from companies or individuals you do not know. Always ask them for a written material for any offers, and wait until it arrives before you do any transactions.

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Be On Guard

It is important to always be on guard. Remember that those who defraud you can be both strangers and people you know very well. The main reason why a family member would want to steal your identity or defraud you in any way is to deplete a joint account. They may also be asking for money in order to take care of you but never delivering. Financial fraud can happen to anyone, rich or poor. Always look for one very trustworthy person who can do all transactions on your behalf to avoid being coned. Make sure deals involving your assets are handled by someone you trust.

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Be Involved

Isolation can lead to becoming a prime victim of fraud. This can be avoided if someone is constantly checking on you to ensure nothing is wrong. It is easy for people to target you when they know you live in complete isolation from others. They get motivation from the fact that they know they will be long gone by the time anyone realizes that a senior has been a victim of identity theft. Since isolation can lead to becoming a prime victim of fraud, those with seniors living alone should hire a caregiver to cater for their needs. If hiring a caregiver is expensive, organize to have someone visit the senior on a regular basis.